What Paul Walker Can Teach Us About Estate Planning

In past segments I have discussed the value of estate planning and why it is usually the most important legal work anyone will ever do. The tragic events surrounding the death of actor Paul Walker demonstrates just how important estate planning is, and why everyone needs to get this work done.

Last November, Paul Walker died in a horrific car accident. Recently, Mr. Walker’s father filed a petition for probate in Santa Barbara County, California. Apparently, Mr. Walker left a 15 year old daughter as the sole beneficiary of his estate. The good news is that he had a revocable living trust and left a Last Will and Testament leaving his entire estate to his trust. The bad news is that he failed to fund his trust. The probate documents indicate his estate was worth $25,000,000 when he died.

So how do I know all this? Because probate is a matter of public record. Anyone can go online and see the Petition for probate as well as Mr. Walker’s Will. So ask yourself, when you die, do you want all of this information made public?

Consider this, even though Mr. Walker had a revocable living trust, at least $25,000,000 of his assets were not placed in the trust. This has potentially dire consequences to the estate.

  • First, the probate gives anyone a forum to come forward and litigate any issues.
  • Second, the probate proceedings will take many months if not years to litigate.
  • And third, I estimate legal fees will be about $200,000.

Had Mr. Walker simply made sure all of his assets were owned by the trust, and had he used a legal entity like an LLC to contract his services, all of the assets would have been in the trust when he died and he could have avoided the probate process entirely.

So you see, its not about how much you have, its all about the people in your life. Please contact our office for a free estate planning consultation. This is Jamie Kalicki with Kalicki Law Offices. Remember, for all of your estate and business planning needs, its Kalicki Law Offices.